Hundreds of glow sticks luminesced over the sold-out crowd at Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. Prepubescent girls snapped cellphone pictures and out-screamed one another as younger kids were hoisted onto parents' shoulders for better views.
The cheers morphed into hysteria as Big Time Rush emerged.
The scene onstage is familiar: five seemingly interchangeable young guys linked by one band name and an ability to dance with military precision, deliver harmonies and exude boy-next-door charm.
Big Time Rush, performing Thursday at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, is at the crest of a new boy band wave, yet the L.A.-made group hearkens to an era when Backstreet Boys, 'NSync and 98 Degrees ruled the charts.
Judging from recent sold-out shows for other young groups such as multicultural British heartthrobs the Wanted and R&B teen sensations Mindless Behavior, as well as the buzz surrounding reality show magnate Simon Cowell's creation One Direction, the re-emergence of the boy band has only just begun.
In what seems to be as predictably cyclical as the stock market, bubble gum bands are back and trying to fill a void left by the maturation of Justin Bieber and other precursors. And as always, they're working extra hard in competing with one another to stand out.
Mindless Behavior's Jacob "Princeton" Perez, who's from L.A., said he's aware their popularity could fade as fast as it arrived. "In this camp, they really believe in working hard. Our manager always told us to never get comfortable because it can all go away really fast," he said. "A lot of people think it came out of nowhere, but we've been at it for three years."
Though Mindless Behavior is geared more for the urban market, their music -- like that of their dreamy boy peers -- is loaded with enough sugary pop, dance and R&B melodies to charm tweens across America until at least the end of summer break.
Since Big Time Rush was assembled for the Nickelodeon show of the same name in 2009 the band's TV series has become a hit and it's now behind two albums, blockbuster tours and a slew of made-for-TV films, including the Beatles-themed "Big Time Movie," which attracted 13 million total viewers when it aired this month, according to Nielsen. After dates on the group's current tour sold out in minutes, it announced an extensive summer trek.
Big Time Rush follows a mold, once perfected by the Monkees, in which a fictional artist-based sitcom extends to profitable tours, music and merchandise. Its current album, "Elevate," debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200, has sold more than 3 million digital tracks, and its self-titled TV show, now in its second season, averages a respectable 3.6 million viewers.
The Wanted, managed by the man behind Justin Bieber, Scott "Scooter" Braun, hit No. 1 on the iTunes pop chart with its U.S. single, "Glad You Came."
BTR member Kendall Schmidt says its latest success proves it's more than a novelty. "We'd all be lying if we said the first thing we planned to do was sing in a boy band. We all knew we were signing up for an opportunity of a lifetime," said Schmidt, 21, who's based in L.A. "We are trying our best to make it our band and not something we signed up for."
Big Time Rush with Cody Simpson †††
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday †††
WHERE: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center †††
TICKETS: $35-$65 †††
INFO: www.godarienlake.com, Ticketmaster.com, LiveNation.com †††